I applaud Charles Krauthammer for his Nov. 18 op-ed column, "Phony Theory, False Conflict."

I'm the son of an electrical engineer who searched for meaning and truth throughout his life and was baptized a Catholic at age 13. I share my late father's love of science, strong faith in God and belief that science is more than just a vital tool to advance the welfare of our species; it's also a powerful means to appreciate the majesty and wonder of the Creator's handiwork, both in the world we see and that which remains invisible and unknown to us.

If Pat Robertson proved anything with his over-the-top rebuke of Dover, Pa. ["Robertson Says Town Rejects God," news story, Nov. 11], it's that fanaticism in the name of any religion is foolish and too often dangerous. People wonder how the glories of Greece and Rome gave way to the Dark Ages. Mr. Robertson's behavior provides a clue. Unfortunately, survival of the fittest has never been much of a match for the cockroach-like endurance of human ignorance.

I would like to believe that the rest of the world will resist confusing Mr. Robertson's ranting with the feelings and beliefs of most religious Americans. Unfortunately, that kind of Newtonian embrace of civility and reason is in short supply nowadays.

Let us all pray for a healthy dose of evolution -- if not in our species' physical attributes, at least in our nation's collective ability to reconcile the enduring Word of God with the crucial march of science.

DOUG HERNAN

Rockville

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Charles Krauthammer called intelligent design a tautological theory, but it is Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection that is a tautology: It predicts the fittest will survive, then defines the fittest as those who survive.

As for Mr. Krauthammer's point that a scientific theory must be empirically disprovable and that intelligent design supposedly cannot be falsified, that is incorrect. Intelligent design advocate William A. Dembski has noted that if it could be shown that a complex biological system such as the bacterial flagellum could have been formed by a gradual evolutionary process, then intelligent design would be falsified on the general ground that an intelligent cause need not be invoked when a natural cause will do.

The Darwinian theory of evolution lacks the empirical evidence needed (most notably in the fossil record) to show the gradual development of large-scale biological diversity and complexity; instead, it assumes and asserts as "fact" that mutations and natural selection are sufficient to create complex organisms because these organisms do, after all, exist. So it turns out that the Darwinian conclusion of random, gradual, large-scale evolution is merely based on the premise that it supposedly set out to prove.

What intelligent design posits is a cause sufficient to the complexity of the design, which the Darwinian model does not do.

THOMAS H. GOREY

Germantown

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I question Charles Krauthammer's assertions about the religions of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

He said Newton "was a staunch believer in Christianity and a member of the Church of England." But Newton's religion was not traditional Christianity. Newton was a heretic -- a Unitarian, more specifically an Arian, in an age of Trinitarian orthodoxy. Even today many Christians would find such belief heretical.

Newton went to great lengths to hide his heretical beliefs, for he knew that they could lead to loss of position and possibly imprisonment.

Einstein's religion "was a more diffuse belief in a deity who set the rules for everything that occurs in the universe," according to Mr. Krauthammer. But on more than one occasion Einstein stated clearly that he did not believe in a personal God. His belief was in the awe-inspiring order and harmony that he saw manifest in the universe. It strains credulity to think, as Mr. Krauthammer says, that Einstein would have thought in terms of "the mind of God" or "a deity who set the rules." These are the kind of religious anthropomorphisms that Einstein criticized and abhorred.

MERRILL E. MILHAM

Baldwin, Md.